To Jack After the Valentine's Disco...

Dear Jack,
Last night when I got home from work you were ready and waiting in your 'smart clothes' and excited beyond all reason. I was going to drive you to school where they were hosting a Valentine's Disco for you and all the other 4-6 year olds. I had been forewarned by your Daddy, who had made a similar trek with you to the 'Halloween Disco' in October, that this was pretty much an hour of complete and utter insanity. Good lord, was he right. When we got to school we couldn't get in right away, so you went careening around outside the doors aping at the other children and admiring the boys in their Cyberman shirts.

It doesn't matter if you know a kid, if they are impressive to you, then you'll head right up to them and say 'Nice shirt!' I don't know if it's their englishness or the fact that you can perhaps stun people into silence, but they normally don't react very openly, but when you turn away from them I see a slight smile of pride as they look down at themselves.

Meanwhile, you have your own little cohort of friends, and once we got inside the building you all had a marvelous time 'dancing' (and I use that term loosely) and piling onto one another in great heaps. Before I had boys I was very much on the 'nurture' side of the debate, but watching you and your pals say hello by wrestling one another to the floor makes me seriously wonder, and this creeping realization is only heightened by the fact that as you writhe on the floor all around you are pretty little girls in red and pink valentine's dresses, dancing much more skillfully to the beat.

For you the disco is about hurtling around the room with your friends but mainly it's about the Sweeties. Over to the side of the hall was a little shop selling packets of chews and gummies -- you are drawn to this place irresistibly over the course of the hour. Spinning off to tumble and then every few moments returning to beg for more sweets, more 10 pence pieces to buy them. "But puh-leeeeease, Mummy."

After about 4 packets, I had to put my foot down.

All that sugar and running around, and you got completely overheated. You were begging me to let you take your clothes off, which was something new and also somewhat alarming. Rather than draw such unwanted and dodgy attention on ourselves (I imagined you chasing around the hall in your spongebob undies) we opted to roll up your sleeves and trouser legs, and you reared off again with your pale legs poking out like sticks.

Finally you returned back to my side, and asked to go home. You happily place your hand in mine as we work our way out. That simple hand-holding. I wonder how long I have left of that.
I'm not being maudlin or anything, because I know that it's only natural that one day soon you'll be less likely to hug me on a whim or plant a wet kiss on my cheek, but it's also good for me to remember that one day I'll be looking at this time and wondering where it went.

I love you, sweet boy.



I just believe in me, that’s reality (Hubs Guest Post)

Well, finally on this day of days, when the “Beatles” (did they really exist? Were there two or four? Was it all a dream?) song Across the Universe (did they even write it?) is supposedly going to be beamed out into “outer space” (prove there’s such a place), the Truth has been received! Finally, 25% of Brits have come to realise (see I am writing like them now and that means I am one of them; join us join us) that Winston Churchill (who would name a kid after that Bulldog Insurance logo?) and Florence Nightingale (a bird? a plane?) are fictional characters designed to keep us all numb and obedient. We have lived in fear of the so-called Crimean War long enough! Didn’t that Iron Curtain keep you warm? I don’t think too many owed too much to too few, do you? (how Seussian! Or should I say Geiselian?). We have at last seen through the veil of the simulacrum and come to know reality for what it is! Schizo-criticism had us in its clutches too long, and now you fucker Frederic Jameson, you’re gonna pay! Yes, it’s a new day for revisionists everywhere (there’s one in every pot, along with that so-called chicken we were promised; and why does everything taste of chicken? Alien mind traps, that's why!). Soon we will all see what the great doctor has said all along (Doctor Who, that is): it is better not to know what is good or bad, or what is real or false).

Other things once thought of as true:

Cary Grant saying “Judy Judy Judy” (he only said “Judy” or maybe “Judy Judy”, but c’mon; it is preposterous to think he would add the superfluous Judy!)

Humphrey Bogart saying “Play it again, Sam” in “Casablanca”. (in fact, he just said, “you played it for her now play it for me. Play it!”)

Shakespeare writing, “Alas poor Yorick, I knew him well.” In fact he wrote, “You mean I kissed that dead guy!? Yuck!” (The Complete Shakespeare)

It doesn’t surprise me that so many people are getting history wrong. It seems that within the last 40 years, the whole enterprise of history has been to dismantle itself bit by bit. I have taught in my classes how there are myths surrounding George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and it would appear that those lessons have taken root … a bit too strongly. True, Existentialism teaches us that we cannot be certain anything exists, with the exception of oneself (and here I always compliment my students on their imagining such a handsome professor), but what have we lost now in suggesting that nothing is real. Is 25% of the British public being ironic? What makes Churchill so unreal, and Holmes so lifelike? (I neglected to mention that the same 25% believe Holmes and Watson actually existed).
The article that I got this story from is clearly criticising the dumbing down of all Western societies, and it has a point; however, it is all an outgrowth of our dependence on the sound bite and the medium of television, which states outright that if it is on that box, it must be true. One only need recall the Presidential Debates, where George W. Bush denied that he had ever said of Osama bin Laden, “I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.”

John Kerry quoted him nearly verbatim in the debate, and all Bush had to do was say, “There you go with one of your exaggerations.” More than half of my students thought “W” had bested Kerry with that remark; few had stayed around long enough to hear the tapes after the debate that repeated Bush saying those very words.

So kidding aside, it is becoming increasingly problematic determining what is the truth (or what the truths are and what they mean). Politics has become simply about who can say something that sounds true, or as Stephen Colbert puts it, the winner must have “truthiness” – not, indeed, the truth, but the appearance of truth. And in this day and age where we cannot believe in the sincerity of anyone’s motives, for to do so would mean we have always already been duped, who could believe that there was once a leader who was a drunk, who was somewhat common, who made crass remarks about women being ugly, yet who stood tall in the face of an imminent threat (and then collapsed later)? Who could believe that some nurse on the battlefields of a place no one can even locate on a map could have been the impetus for so many humanitarian ideals? (and remember, nurses were supposed to be sluts then, or something barely above actresses).

The title of this entry comes from John Lennon’s song “God”, where he lists off all the things he doesn’t believe in: Elvis, Dylan (in one version he uses Zimmerman, Dylan’s actual surname – see, you can’t trust even your favorite folk singer … or is he rock because he went electric? Is he still Jewish?), Kennedy, kings, Gita, all concluding with his shocking “I don’t believe in Beatles!” He was an idealist, as we all were, and perhaps as very few are allowed to be today, denying the value of so many things that are put upon pedestals. We are repeatedly told heroes don’t exist anymore, and I think the statistic that was published today is the result of our embracing that idea.

Oh, and it is also because our schools suck and our kids are all morons! Go read a book, you stupid kids! You’d think all you had to do was play fucking Playstation!!


In his Second Life My Husband Wants To Be David Bruce Banner

A couple of nights ago the old man and I settled down for a nice night in front of the telly (er, like pretty much every night) and found ourselves drawn into a BBC Documentary on 'Virtual Adultery.'

Main thrust of the programme? There are people out there with crappy real married lives who create insanely sexy online counterparts for themselves in Second Life. Big-boobed Girl Avatar meets Six-pack Boy Avatar, and the mouse-controlled bump and grind of naughty avatar bits begins...

The question. Is this adultery?

As we watched one husband talk about how his wife spends up to 14 hours a day in their bedroom in front of the computer with her 'boyfriend' while he's left to run the house, looks after four kids, and earns a living for them all, we thought that 'adultery' might well be the least of this family's problems.

In the concluding moments -- after this wife had spent some of the family's hard-earned cash to fly out to London to meet her 'boyfriend' in real life (and boy, did he look disappointed when she turned up at Heathrow) only to return to the bosom of the family -- her loving husband declared that his wife was 'Jenny' to his Forrest Gump -- she was wild, lived at the edge, hungry for life, but no matter what, he would be as steadfast as Forrest and remain there for her forever. To which my husband said:

"Yeah. But Forrest Gump was retarded"

We began to see why a virtual life with 'Elliot' might look so enticing to the woman, b'yatch though she was. And there was her husband, trying to make sense of it all by viewing it like the movies. We all want to escape, and for him it took the form of pretending he was a slow-witted adult male from the deep south.

Of course, all this gave the two of us an opportunity to look inside our own hearts, our own marriage, and ask one another the searching questions that had plagued us as we watched side by side.

"So. If you could create an avatar in Second Life, what would it look like?" I asked

"David Banner" "Bruce Banner"

The certainty and swiftness of his reply was impressive.

"Which David Bruce Banner? David Bruce Banner when he's on the verge of becoming the Hulk, you won't like me when I'm angry, David Bruce Banner?? David Bruce Banner in tattered trousers? Or worn out and depleted David Banner as he walks down the side of the road thumbing a ride?"

"Well who would you be?" (dodging the question -- pussy-ass)

"Cate Blanchett" (yes. I am seriously predictable)

"Cate Blanchett-as-Bob Dylan Cate Blanchett, or Cate-Blanchett-as-Galadriel Cate Blanchett?"

"DUH! Like you have to ask that question. Do you even know me at all?"

"You'd go for the pointy ears"

"Of course! I know you're a sucker for the pointy ears! I'd do it for you!" (also. who wants Bob Dylan wiggy hair?)

David Bruce Banner and Galadriel, shacking up together in Second Life, saving up a few Linden Dollars to buy me a boob job and some property on the cyber-beach. We could be happy there.

UPDATE: And here's me sneering at the idiotic ways of idiotic people, and writing an entire post about how my husband wants to be DAVID Banner, when I meant BRUCE Banner.
So far I don't think my husband has any aspirations to be a Dirty South Hip Hop artist, but then, he continues to surprise me. Such is our love.